Philippine fishing boat sunk by Chinese ship

April 28, 2022 | 2:18pm
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Philippine fishing boat sunk by Chinese ship
April 28, 2022

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirms "there has been a final settlement of the damage claims of the Gem-Ver fishermen against the owners of the Chinese vessel." — Kristine Joy Patag

May 24, 2021

The Philippines and China discussed the issue of compensation for the owner and crew of F/B Gem-Ver 1 — a fishing boat that was damaged and then sank in 2019 after an allision with a Chinese fishing vessel in the Recto Bank area of the West Philippine Sea — last week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says.

"The [Department of Justice] will lead a small group (DOJ, [Foreign Affairs], [Agriculture/Bureau of Fisheries and Aquartic Resources) to put a close to this festering issue," he says, adding they will meet with their Chinese counterparts on June 2 and 7.

 "As far as the Filipino fishermen are concerned, it is important that they recover fully their expenses for the boat repair and the income they lost while the boat was under repair," he also says.

September 24, 2019

A philanthropist from Shanghai has turned over a commercial fishing vessel to replace F/B Gem-Ver 1, which was damaged and sank in the the Recto Bank allision in June, columnist and special envoy Ramon Tulfo says in a press release. 

"The fishing boat, christened as F/B Pengyou, replaced the F/B Gem-Ver 1 that was sunk at Recto Bank in the South China Sea," the Office of the Special Envoy for Public Diplomacy to China says. Recto Bank is part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Tulfo says Xue Chengbuao, a tycoon from Shanghai, turned over the the boat in a ceremony in San Jose, Mindoro Occidental on Sunday.

"F/B Pengyou is 17 meters long and 1.6 meters wide. It weighs 10.6 tons and has a Fuso engine with 160 hp," Tulfo's office also says.

"Pengyou" is Mandarin Chinese for friend.

July 8, 2019

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says there is no contradiction in the Philippine Coast Guard's report that the June 9 Recto Bank incident is a “very serious maritime casualty” and President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statement that the incident was a "little maritime incident."

"It's serious in the sense that when you leave our countrymen there then that's a serious matter," Panelo explains, adding that even if it is a serious matter "you cannot blow that and make it into an international crisis."

He adds the Philippines will "definitely" seek accountability from China over the allision that sank F/B Gem-Ver 1.

He says China will be the one to decide on how it should deal with or make accountable the crew of the Chinese vessel that left 22 Filipino fishermen after the allision.

June 27, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo says Senate President Tito Sotto's remark on allowing Chinese to fish within the Philippine EEZ as "the fish could be coming from China" is a bit insensitive, especially to Filipino fishermen whose rights are violated.

"Tingin ko, medyo insensitive siya dahil mayroong mga [mangingisda] tayong na-violate iyong kanilang mga karapatan. Para sa akin, at this point, kailangan nating siguruhin na maramdaman noong mga mangingisda na hindi sila iniwan. Maramdaman nila na tayong lahat nagtutulong-tulong para makahanap sila ng hustisya sa sinapit nila," she says.

June 26, 2019

Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio in a statement says the Philippine government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish within the country's exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea as it violates the Constitution.

"The Constitution mandates, 'The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its exclusive economic zonem and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens,'" he says.

"This means that the Philippine Government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. This also means that the 'use and enjoyment' of the fish in our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipinos."


June 25, 2019

More than 200 students, faculty and alumni of the University of the Philippines Visayas – College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Miagao, Iloilo have signed a petition condemning the allision at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea "and the subsequent downplaying of the incident by the Duterte administration."

"We demand full accountability not only on the crew of the Chinese vessel for endangering the lives of the 22 Filipino fisherfolk, but also on the Duterte administration for betraying the trust of our fisherfolk, the constituents whom this government should be protecting and serving," they say in an online petition shared on social media.

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest with China over the incident but President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials have played the allision down, calling it a "little maritime incident."

Duterte on Monday night said he is sorry that the crew of the F/B Gem-Ver who were left behind by the Chinese vessel after the allision feel "belittled." He explained that China also considers Recto Bank with its jurisdiction despite it being within the Philippines EEZ. 

"Seeing how the government treats the fisheries sector and the fisherfolk, we are inclined to believe that this administration puts the interest of the Chinese first rather than making the Filipino fishers and WPS a priority," the petitioners say.

"Our fisherfolk are among the poorest and most vulnerable sector in the society. Now, more than ever, is the time to stand in solidarity with them and condemn this blatant turncoatism by the Duterte administration. Let us translate our anger into concrete collective action. Hold Duterte and China accountable," they say.

June 24, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte reiterates that the sinking and abaondonment of the crew of F/B Gem-Ver in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea is no reason to send the military to the area, an option that critics of the government's response to the incident are not calling for.

"I'm sorry. But that's how it is. It's a maritime incident. Little in the sense that there was no confrontation, there was no bloody violence," Duterte tells reporters Monday.

He says the incident, and the anger over it, is no reason "to go to any military exercise there."

The president says that would lead to war.

June 24, 2019

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. says he will return the P500,000 check donation of the country's former top diplomat Albert del Rosario otherwise he will be compelled to turn it over to the Bureau of the Treasury.

"DFA cannot dispense donations. I certainly won't turn it over to another department; that's malversation. So with florid expressions of gratitude I had it returned to Del Rosario," Locsin says in a tweet.



June 24, 2019

Sen. Ping Lacson denies he is "posturing" for the 2022 elections after his criticisms on President Duterte's response following the sinking of the Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel.

"To those accusing me of posturing for 2022, I am not. I am just myself - mostly serious, sometimes funny, naughty, controversial, dull, boring," he says in a tweet.



June 23, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has thanked Vietnam for the rescue of 22 Filipino fishermen in the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea after their boat sank in an allision with a Chinese vessel, News5 reports.

The fishermen were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel whose crew heard voices speaking "in a foreign language" and who signalled they needed help. The Vietnamese boat sailed around 5 nautical miles to the Recto Bank to rescue the crew of F/B Gem-Ver 1.

"During the Retreat of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte acknowledged the captain and crew of the Vietnamese vessel that helped the fishermen, saying the act of kindness and compassion will always be remembered by Filipinos," the News5 report reads.

Panelo said Duterte also expressed disappointment with the delay in the negotations for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

June 23, 2019

Sen. Panfilo Lacson joins voices urging caution in agreeing to the planned joint investigation with China into the Recto Bank incident, saying that may have implications on Philippine sovereignty.

"The government must seriously consider the issue of sovereignty in the conduct of a joint investigation with China. The 2016 Hague ruling expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile [exclusive economic zone]," he says.

"It is ours. Are we waiving ownership of Recto Bank?" Lacson also says.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has agreed to the joint probe, has said the Recto Bank allision is not an issue of sovereignty since the incident did not happen in Philippine territorial waters.

According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries have special rights over resources found in its exclusive economic zone.

June 23, 2019

Sen. Franklin Drilon says the Philippines should not agree to a joint probe with China on the June 9 incident at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, where a Chinese vessel hit a Filipino fishing boat and left its crew in the water after the allision. 

"I am opposed to a joint investigation with China. We should not allow it. The law is on our side. There are clear violations of international treaties and our local laws committed by the Chinese vessel. A joint investigation will only serve their interest, not ours," Drilon says.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said last week that he had suggested the joint investigation at a Cabiner cluster meeting on the incident.

China's foreign ministry made a similar suggestion within hours of Guevarra announcing his suggestion.

The Palace, through presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, said President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes the suggestion. The president later said the same in a speech.

'A joint investigation would derogate our jurisdiction and prejudice our claim in the [West Philippine Sea]," Drilon says..

June 21, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo visits the captain of F/B GEM-VER and other fishermen whose boat was sunk by a Chinese trawler off Reed Bank in the South China Sea.

Robredo through her Angat Buhay program also distributes P50,000 in cash to each of the 22 fishermen, as reported by the ABS-CBN News Channel.

June 21, 2019

Sen. Ping Lacson argues that the Philippines' Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States is "invocable even if not yet applicable" after Malacañang called his suggestion to tap all options first including the treaty as "imprudent" and "irresponsible." 

"Still on MDT: Invoke means to cite or appeal. Apply means to put to use for some practical purpose. The treaty is invocable even if not yet applicable. I don’t get it why some people can’t get it," Lacson says in a tweet.



Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on Wednesday said the Duterte administration's actions "cannot be based on conjecture, speculation, or even emotion."

Lacson said that the MDT is an untapped weapon on the country after President Rodrigo Duterte broke his silence on the sinking of a Philippine boat by a Chinese ship which the chief executive downplayed as a "little maritime accident."


June 20, 2019

Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya says there is "something fishy" on the closed-door meeting set by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol with the fishermen who were abandoned by a Chinese vessel after sinking their boat.

"Why would it have to be a close-door in the first place and surrounded by elements of police in full anti-riot gear?" the group says in a statement.

"We demand an explanation and transparency from Piñol on what actually happened inside that house that led to the complete turnaround on the position of the boat captain on the incident that happened on the night of June 9." 

June 20, 2019

Maritime expert Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, says Beijing's claim that the Chinese ship wanted to help the Philippine fishing boat it sunk but was besieged by up to eight Filipino vessels is "absolutely ridiculous."

"Nobody else reported there being any vessels nearby. The Vietnamese didn't report it. Obviously the Filipino fishers wouldn't have felt the need to paddle  two hours toward a distant light if there were seven or eight Philippine bancas nearby. This makes no sense but a pretty childish attempt to deflect blame," he says in an interview over ANC's "Headstart."

June 19, 2019

Former Philippine Ambassador to ASEAN Wilfrido Villacorta says China severely damaged its image after the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat.

He, however, says in an interview over ANC's "Headstart" that it was a good move for China to modify its statement on the Recto Bank incident by omitting the "offensive and condescending" claim that the Chinese vessel was being attacked.

Manila has a chance to raise the Recto Bank incident in the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Thailand from June 22 to 23.

June 18, 2019

The Vietnamese fishing boat that reportedly saved 22 Filipinos after what Manila calls an allision with a Chinese vessel near the Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea, Saigon Times reports.

Saigon Times cites a report on Vnexpress, a news website in Vietnam, that says Ngo Van Theng, 54, from Tien Giang province, has confirmed that it was his boat that rescued the Filipinos, whom the Chinese vessel reportedly abandoned after the incident.

Accordng to the report, Captain Nguyen Thanh Tam was at anchor "in the waters off Vietnam’s Truong Sa islands" when he and his crew heard voices speaking in a foreign language.

"At first, the captain said, he feared that they might be pirates but later found them both soaking wet and shivering and thought they might have had an accident at sea. The foreign men continued using hand signals to request help and pointed towards Reed Bank," Saigon Times reports.

The boat sailed to the Reed Bank, which Manila calls Recto Bank, and found "20 Filipino fishermen wearing life jackets and clinging to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from the shipwreck."

June 18, 2019

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan condemns the action of Chinese fishing vessel accused of abandoning a Filipino fishing crew after a collision in the West Philippine Sea.

"No matter the many versions of what happened the Chinese embassy issues, the indubitable fact remains: Filipino fishermen were left stranded at sea and could have died if not for the rescue of Vietnamese fishermen," says Pangilinan.

The senator also expresses disappointment with the Philippine and Chinese governments.

"People, especially neighbors, do not need to be friends to feel compassion and empathy after seeing a group of fishermen helplessly swimming for their life after encountering what the Chinese called an 'accident,'" says Pangilinan. 

"The Chinese government claims they have been in talks with Philippine officials several times, yet, the issue appears not to move forward as it continues to deny responsibility for the near-death experience of the Filipino fishermen. Sadly, we could not sense even a modicum of good faith from the Chinese," he adds.

June 18, 2019

Sanlakas, a party-list and a coalition of progressive groups, says it stands in solidarity with the 22 fisherfolk involved in what the government now calls an "allision" in the West Philippine Sea.

"It is our undivided position: all Filipinos must be allowed to fish freely in the West Philippine Sea," it says.

It adds in a statement that the government has billions of pesos in intelligence resources that could shed light on the incident.

"Instead, the president dilly-dallied and left the speaking to his minions who, far from providing clarity, have immediately exculpated the Chinese from any wrongdoing, and worse,trivializing the mishap as an ordinary accident," it also says.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday evening said there is no reason to make the incident bigger than it is, saying it is just "a little maritime incident." He also said there are already rules in place for incidents at sea.

"It is most welcome for Duterte to allude to rules in dealing with the mishap hinting on the need to uphold due process on the matter where he has deliberately decided to err on the side of caution. If only he offered the same guarantee of due process to the tens of thousands of Filipinos killed in his bloody war on drugs, Duterte without doubt would have the moral ascendancy to command prudence. Unfortunately, he does not," Sanlakas says.

June 18, 2019

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. says it is the obligation of every member state of the United Nations and of the International Maritime Organization to observe sea conventions "in real life-and-death situations."

He says this in a statement at the 29th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea referring to the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat and then the abandonment of 22 fishermen after by a Chinese vessel.

The IMO is a specialized UN agency responsible for ensuring the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.

"The incident, to put it diplomatically, highlights the moral and possibly legal — though one wouldn’t wager on it — imperative of coming to the rescue of persons in distress at sea. Article 98 of UNCLOS explicitly provides for the 'duty to render assistance,'" he says.

He adds that this duty of the master of a ship is three-fold: to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost; to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him; and after a collision, to render assistance to the other ship, its crew and its passengers and, where possible, to inform the other ship of the name of his own ship, its port of registry and the nearest port at which it will call.

China is a member-state of the IMO since 1973 while the Philippines is a member-state since 1964.

June 18, 2019

Sen. Ping Lacson says President Duterte left Filipinos "heartbroken" after the chief executive broke his silence on the sinking of the Philippine fishing boat and called it a "little maritime accident."

"He forgot to explore all resources available before exercising his last option of surrender... I am not suggesting WW3 but at least it can make China feel the balance of power in the WPS," he says in a Twitter post.



June 18, 2019

China says it is ready to enhance communication with the Philippines on the investigation to increase understanding, dispel mistrust and to find out what actually happened.

"I's like to stress that this is only an accidental collision between fishing boats at sea. It is irresponsible and counter-constructive to link this incident with China-Philippines friendship or even make political interpretations out of it."



June 18, 2019

Junel Insigne, the captain of F/B Gem-Vir 1, the Philippine fishing boat sunk by a Chinese vessel says he is saddened by President Duterte's remark that the incident was just a "little maritime accident" as he believes the ramming was intentional.

"Nalulungkot po ako dahil parang balewala lang po ang pagbangga sa amin. Paano po kunng marami ang namatay sa amin?" he says in an interview over ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."

"Anuhin lang po sana na talagang binangga po kami talaga," he adds.

June 17, 2019

President Duterte touches on the Recto Bank incident in a speech at the Philippine Navy's 121st anniversary, saying nations are governed by conventions and laws of the sea.

He adds he wanted "action" over the incident, but adds: "I am not in my boyhood age anymore."





June 17, 2019

The Palace will wait for the results of China's investigation into a collision that sank a Filipino fishing boat near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, saying it does not want to jump to conclusions on the incident, where the Chinese vessel involved reportedly left the Filipino crew adrift.

China has acknowledged that a China-flagged vessel was involved but has rejected the Filipinos' claim that the vessel had abandoned them after the collision. The Chinese Embassy said the Chinese fishing vessel's crew was afraid of being "besieged" by Filipinos so it left when it was sure the crewmen had been rescued.

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to issue a statement on the incident although the Palace initially said that he was outraged. The Palace has since walked this back, with presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo saying last week that he had actually not talked to the president about it yet. 

June 17, 2019

The captain of F/B Gem-Vir 1, Junel Insigne, backs out from a scheduled meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte today.

A report citing the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources says it was because he is still experiencing trauma.

An ABS-CBN report, however, states that Insigne was told by his wife over the phone to just go back to their home in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro after learning that a special Cabinet meeting about the ramming was canceled.

June 16, 2019

Press Statement read by Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) President Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong on June 16, 2019 at the Pandesal Forum of Kamuning Bakery Café, Quezon City

Appeal for sobriety and offer of humanitarian assistance

On the recent unfortunate mishap involving 22 Filipino fishermen and their boat, while the Philippine and China governments are now still ascertaining what really happened, so far the
real truth that we are already sure of is that our 22 Filipino brothers had lost their fishing vessel and their means of livelihood.

The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.(FFCCCII) as a business and civic organization appeals for sobriety from all sectors of our Philippine
society. The FFCCCII wishes to offer our sincere assistance and support to our fellow countrymen the 22 fishermen in the immediate rehabilitation of their damaged fishing boat, so
that they can resume their livelihood. We wish to express our concern for their welfare and our solidarity.

We hope that this civic and humanitarian gesture by the FFCCCII can help alleviate the plight of our unfortunate countrymen.

June 16, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo calls on the Department of Foreign Affairs to demand that the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel that collided with F/B Gen-Vir 1 be found and that China recognize Philippine jurisdiction over the case "so they can face trial before our courts."

In a press statement, Robredo acknowledges China's statement that its government will investigate the incident. She adds, however, that: "If the Chinese government has already presented their own version of the events and will not even accept that a wrong was committed, how can we expect it to mete justice on those responsible?"

Although China has acknowledged that the fishing vessel involved in the incident near the Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea is Chinese, it has denied that it was a "hit and run." It has said that the Chinese vessel was "besieged" by seven to eight Filipino boats, prompting it to leave the area.

Gen-Vir 1 was hit when the Chinese vessel moved away, China said. It also left because it was afraid of being "besieged", China said, adding the vessel left when the Filipini boats had rescued the crew of the Gen-Vir.

The Department of National Defense said last week when it made the June 9 incident public that the crew was rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.

June 16, 2019

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says in a radio interview that the Philippines should hold China responsible over the collision near Recto Bank and for the abandonment by a Chinese fishing vessel of the crew of a Filipino boat that sank as a result of the incident.

"They are saying it was an accident... among lawyers, there is a rule that flight is evidence of guilt. If you flee, that is evidence that you are at fault," he says in Filipino in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, a transcript of which was provided by Drilon's office.

He says the Philippines should continure "exerting international pressure," saying the incident on June 9 should not be seen as an isolated one. "To me, this shows China's mindset about the Philippines because of our claims in the West Philippine Sea."

"This is not an isolated incident. To me, this is a pattern of bullying." 

June 14, 2019

Sen. Panfilo Lacson backs the account of the Philippine Navy that it was a Chinese vessel that hit the boat of resting Filipino fishermen on Reed Bank in the South China Sea.

In a statement, Lacson says "there is no reason to doubt" since it was already the position of Rear Adm. Robert Empedrad, the flag officer-in-command.

Lacson also opposes the position of President Duterte spokesperson Sal Panelo who said the administration will not politicize what could be an ordinary incident.

"Even if it was an accidental collision as claimed by [China's] spokesperson, it will not mitigate the criminal offense of abandoning our people to die in the high seas," Lacson says.

"Worse, an admonition issued by the (presidential) spokesman (Sal Panelo) not to politicize the incident only worsens the situation," he adds.

Panelo's statement echoes that of China's Foreign Ministry.

June 14, 2019

The Commission on Human Rights affirms the need to protest the Chinese fishing vessel's ramming of a Filipino fishing boat before China's government and for the Philippines to "appropriate robust measures that will protect the rights of all Filipinos—be it on land or at sea."

CHR says it "echoes the condemnation of the Department of National Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs and other concerned Philippine officials."

"We believe that asserting our sovereignty and the right of our fishers to rightfully gain economically from the resources found off the coast of Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, a country’s exclusive economic zone, protects our people’s right to self-determination," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia says in a statement.

On Independence Day, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said a Chinese boat had collided with a Filipino boat anchored near Reed Bank in the South China Sea on June 9, causing it to sink and leaving 22 crewmen to their fate.

Updates in the aftermath of the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a suspected Chinese trawler.

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